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Volunteer Visitor Center in Kathmandu

Kathmandu, Nepal

There's a new visitor center in Kathmandu, Nepal. It's the Volunteer Visitor Center provided by The Mountain Fund. The Center is open to the public, and currently has about 20 volunteering opportunities available, throughout the area of Kathmandu.

If you're in Kathmandu, and have some extra time - stop by the center and see if there's an opportunity which fits your timeframe.

There are opportunities to volunteer in the areas of women's issues, healthcare, humanity, and youth. Or just offer administrative assistance at the Center. It's a great way to give back to this region.

permalink written by  Jenn on January 21, 2008 from Kathmandu, Nepal
from the travel blog: Trekking in Nepal
tagged Mountain, Kathmandu, Volunteer, Nepal and Trek

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Treking near Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai, Thailand

After Bangkok we headed to Chiang Mai to do a jungle trek...

At the Riverside cafe in Chiang Mai:

Bugs from a street vendor cart - I passed on these:

Our trek started on elephants:

Then we hiked for about 4 hours climbing 1500 vertical meters:

We stayed at a LaHou village in a traditional Thai house:

The next day we hiked down the mountain through a different route:

Then we finished up with a white water rafting trip:

When the river guide gives us instructions he spooks the others and they decide to not come:

permalink written by  soloshell3 on January 9, 2009 from Chiang Mai, Thailand
from the travel blog: Solomon and Michelle's Southeast Asian escape
tagged ChiangMai, Trek and ElephantRiding

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American Invasion of Vietnam: Part II, Tourism

Sa Pa, Vietnam

After five-thousand feet of steep, rigorous and back-breaking journey and Mr Cho (our guide) Cait, Taylor, Emmy and I (
) finally reached the top of Mt. Fan Xi Pan, the tallest mountain in SE Asia at about 11 thousand feet. Nothing compared to our American mountains, but hey, its a different place. Yet Setting, working, and reaching a tall goal in one day left us all with the great sense of exhaustive relief and accomplishment that made it all pay off. We hung around the top for a bit, then ventured downward to basecamp where we ate, drank some rice wine, and then watched the bright Milky Way and shooting stars until sleep. This was our trips last real intensive trek, and of the three options we were given, this was the hardest route.

A vacation town in the mountains of North Vietnam, Sa Pa exudes a very peaceful attitude, and very curious dress customs. The local H'mong peoples who live here (partially pictured right) dress in all black garb with funny hats ornamented with red and metallic things. Many of them try to sell you tribal gifts and thinga-ma-jigs such as bracelets, earings, hats, sunblock, playing cards and fruits, and many of them just hang around the market and the lake chillin'. Tourism has been a particularly good boon for this Vietnamese economy, as their communal farming of the 70s-80s was a failed experiment, and their reliance on opium and timber created a devastating economic void after the government outlawed both practices in the early 90s. The Vietnamese people adapt very well to the market economy, chiefly due to the large influence of the Chinese on the Vietnamese.

Vietnam is very different from the other mainland countries of SE Asia because their society is not as fully influenced by strict Buddhism as are Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand. Much of their influence comes from the Chinese, including their set notion of private property, their nobel dress/palaces/architecture, and their city structure.

I feel these much more Chinese attitudes have made their transition to a market economy much easier than it has been for the other countries in the entire region. The picture to the left shows an interesting cultural influence...Catholicism (see left-the Christmas tree and I, and above-the cave Jesus was born in). Many missionaries from the West worked in Vietnam during the colonial period and today they have 8 million Catholics in a country of 85 million. Even so, almost everybody celebrates Christmas, and there are many statues in Buddhist households to the Virgin Mary, Jesus, John the Baptist and even Santa Claus. The mainstream Buddhism of Vietnam and China are of a totally different breed than that of the other mainland SE Asian countries (Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos).

After Sapa, our group traveled to very tourist-populat Halong Bay. Halong Bay is a 300 square mile World Heritage region where massive limestone cliffs, caves and arches rise from the misty sea all around as far as the eye can see. The 14 Pacific Discovery group members and I had a boat (
) chartered for us while we sailed along for three days, kayaked, swam, and explored limestone caves I spent my free time mostly reading, enjoying the nice scenery atop the boat, and swimming. School can't get much better than this.

Some more pictures for everybody... Click on the photos to make them larger

Taylor, Emmy, Cait and I at the pinnacle of Mt Fan Xi Pan (Mt Fancypants)

Me achieving enlightenment at the top of the mountain of course.

A cool photo of the bamboo forests we tread through. An interesting side-note, wild marijuana plants actually grew around here!

Another mountainside photo, reminded me a bit of Yosemite in NorCal.

Vietnamese love Jesus!

Colin and I inside a cave in a limestone cliff of Halong Bay

More Halong Bay

permalink written by  JohnJack_Crestani on February 23, 2009 from Sa Pa, Vietnam
from the travel blog: I Meet the SouthEast
tagged Vietnam, HalongBay, Trek, Sapa, Hmong and FanXiPan

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The Return of The GitGit

Bajawa, Indonesia

Bajawa was fairly cold and the wind on the first night literally shook everything that stood. In the morning we drove thirty minutes to a small village where a local guide took us on a three-hour trek to Inielika, a volcano that last erupted in 2001. We arrived at the site to see that one side of the volcano had actually fallen away with the eruption.

Just as we finished taking a few photos, we started to carefully walk [one by one] along a ridge to a lone tree. As we did this Lenaic felt something happen very quickly, then she realised that she had been stung and that the thing that had stung her was coming back again! Panic set in and before you know it me and the guide took a hit too! We had strayed too close to a wasp nest but it was no ordinary wasp, it was a GitGit and the guide showed us clearrly that even he was in fear of these beast of the sky! See the photos for evidence, honestly you don't want to be stung by one of these! Praise for Toufik though as he beat one that was trying to eat my jumper. It was time to head back early!

La nuit a Bajawa a ete agitee a cause d'un vent exceptionnellement fort, a tel point qu'on etait pas sur de pouvoir faire l'excursion du jour: l'ascension du volcan Inielika. Ce volcan est entre en eruption en 2001 et son explosion a litteralement fait sauter tout un pan du cone. La vegetation n'a toujours pas repousse, reste des crateres remplis d'eau orange (a cause du mercure) mais nous ne les avons pas vu de cette couleur (trop de pluie???).

Une fois au sommet et apres la prise de quelques photos, le guide local qui nous accompagnait decide de nous faire redescendre du cote du cratere quand soudain je sens qu'un "truc" me fonce dessus a toute allure et realise qu'il m'a pique/mordu sur la joue!! Aie! Alors que Brian et le guide venait voir ce qu'il m'arrivait, Brian sent une vive douleur derriere sa tete, ainsi que le guide vers son oeil. Soudain realisant qu'il s'agit d'une attaque de guepes (Git-Git), le guide crie "Git-Git Run!". Et la, c'est la panique! quelles vacances! Brian laisse tomber sa veste par terre car il y avait deja 2 autres guepes dessus. Toufik prend courageusement un baton, tue les guepes et ramasse la veste. Merci Toufik. On quitte la zone du nid le plus vite possible. Je courrais et apres quelques metres j'entends qu'une guepe continue de me poursuivre. Je cours, je crie, je m'assois avec mon manteau de pluie sur la tete, elle est encore la, je cours, je crie, je panique (de nouveau). Et plus je crie, plus elle me suit! L'horreur. Brian me dit "Cours et arrete de crier!" lol, ce qui a marche. S'en est suivi 3 jours de gonflements et de legeres douleurs pour nous deux.

Nursing our injuries we went to Bena village which is a relatively preserved traditional mountain village. Despite tourism obviously passing through, the village has maintained its traditional appearance and customs. Due to tradition, people who marry are required to stay in the original village households and for this reason it is causing a modern-day problem. The attraction of modern commodities and living standards is proving a threat, especially to the young population. There are not actually that many houses either but each descends from a family line and either has origins from a female or male ancestor as can be seen from a small spiritual representation on top of the house. If a household or family wish to either rebuild or in rare cases construct a new house they must provide enough food by sacrifice to feed the village as an offering and in return for their help in the construction. This is evident today by the number of pig-jaws or cow skulls that are displayed on the front of each house.

L'apres midi nous avons visite un village traditionnel relativement preserve malgre le tourisme, Bena. Toute personne qui se marie avec un des villageois doit rester vivre dans le village. Ils fonctionnent selon le principe de communaute. Du coup, les jeunes d'aujourdhui ne veulent plus vivre ainsi, loin de tout ce qui commence a poser quelques problemes. Du coup une certaine tolerance s'installe et les couples doivent seulement revenir pour les fetes importantes, les celebrations. Sur le toit des maisons, apparait une statuette indiquant si le local vivant dans cette maison est un homme ou une femme. Des qu'un couple emmenage dans une maison, le rituel est de sacrifier un sacre nombre d'animaux pour nourrir toute la communaute lors de la ceremonie. Ensuite ils affichent fierement les ossements des tetes sur le devant de la maison. Plus il y en a, mieux c'est.

permalink written by  Lenameets50 on January 19, 2010 from Bajawa, Indonesia
from the travel blog: Indonesia & Malaysia et al 2010
tagged Trek, Indonesia, DinoLopez, Bajawa, Inielika, Stung and Bena

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TLG VIII Or, big savings!

Qiaotou, China

Time to go to Tiger Leaping Rock. Down! We bypass the sky ladder and opt for the safe way down. It is morning and the trail is empty. Most hilkers come from Halfway Guesthouse in the morning and add this bit on in the afternoon before hopping the bus to Lijiang or Shangri La. Tuesday totally shattered by 'take it nice & slow' approach to the trek but today should be better. It is windy and cloudy but no rain.

We see people at the bottom already! They are on the large, jutting rock on the left. We explore The Rocks on the right first. A mightly powerful River through the gorge! The group on the large rock leave. We make our way over. A woman sits by the path up The Rock. She wants 10rmb from us. I had asked in advance where exactly we were suppose to pay as locals like to set up signs and road blocks and illegally collect 'passage fees.' If the information I gathered was correct, we do not have to pay her. I tell her so and walk right past her. Corey is too polite. She grabs her cell phone & calls. For back up? For police? For muscle? We'll see. I enjoy the views. Corey pays the fee. I over hear her give a sigh of resignation. Whomever she called did not make her emboldened to confront me. After a bit I leave. She does not follow; back up, police and muscle do not arrive.

I saved myself $1.61.

permalink written by  prrrrl on March 8, 2012 from Qiaotou, China
from the travel blog: Yunnan, China
tagged Police, Trek, Muscle, Powerful, Down, PassageFee and Polite

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